The old man

I’m in a mood to ramble. More than ever. 3rd post in a span of 5 hours? Never happened before. I was blog hopping and ended up reading this blog end to end. Some very very cool posts. This particular post reminded me something that happened to me once in Hyderabad.

I was living in Maradpally. As usual, took a cab home at around 8. Its a long drive home from office. So it was about 9ish when I got to Maradpally. I got off at the end of the lane cos I needed to pick up something from the supermarket. Hyderabad is a safe city. I’ve taken an auto back with Roomie at 2 in the morning and fought with the auto-driver over spiked auto meter, loudly at that. Its not something I’d ever dream of doing in Madras. In fact, I don’t think I’ve travelled in an auto past 9pm here. Getting back to the story, the road that led to my house from the supermarket was poorly lit as always. Under the lone streetlight on the narrow road, there was an abandoned TVS 50 and lying next to it was an old man. My first impulse was that there had been an accident. I slowly moved towards the man unsure of what to do really. But as I moved closer, I realised he was mumbling something undecipherable in a language I didn’t recognise. I stood right there for a full minute unsure of my next move. People kept going past us. A few gave me a second glance. More out of curiosity, I guess. Just as I unscrewing the cap of my water bottle to sprinkle some water on his face, another gentleman stopped. He seemed like my grandpa. Same kind eyes and laid back attire of going for a leisure evening walk. He looked at me questioningly and I shrugged saying I don’t know what happened to the old man. He moved closer and the stench of alcohol hit him. He signaled for me to move away and keep walking. ‘He just drunk,’ he said, very casually. I kept standing there cos he wasn’t exactly young and I wasn’t sure how he would lift the drunk man up. I didn’t feel right about leaving him alone.

In all this, the drunk old man woke up and tried to roll over and stand up. In this process, another bottle of alcohol rolled out of his pant pocket sounding wicked as it rolled over on the gravel. Even in his drunken stupor he felt about for his precious bottle and refused to be helped up without it. I still stood rooted to the same spot, in shock. The other gentleman kept signalling for me to leave and gave me an encouraging smile. I walked away, unable to grasp the gravity of what I just saw. People kept walking past, wrapped up in their world, refusing to help a man struggling with a stubborn drunk. Maybe this old man’s world was a small one too, just him and his bottle.

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Ingleesh Laanguaze

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a linguist and these are only my observations. Also, disclaimers seem to be in vogue after the Aamir’s dog licking incident. And before you jump to any conclusions, he didn’t lick the dog. Just go watch NDTV 24/7, for updates.
Spoken English classes caught on in a big way a few years ago. Now, they advertise aggresively in every tabloid/newspaper urging you to join one. Makes you a more confident person, it says. Starting with the Sun Music VJs no one speaks a sentence that doesn’t start with “so” and end with “ok va.”
The climax in this English speaking celebrity rut is probably the dance show that is aired on Kalaignar TV on Sundays. Its again one of those starlets’ pass to fame shows judged by yesteryear beauties. The show’s director, Kala Master, is one of the judges. As much as an authority she is on filmy dancing, she lapses into a stream of intolerably weird English when she gets too emotional or in her own words, “Too emotion.” “I like the confident in your performance,” she reassures her participants. When they experiment with something new or get an especially good act together, she likes their “creative.” I can’t even recount some of her other usage of very common words. My memory fails me!
She is just an example of why these spoken english courses will always thrive and have an ever growing clientele. I understand the pseudoness involved in having to speak the language perfectly, well, almost, to make yourself desirable to a prospective employer. But to have to do that on a Tamil Tv show, is simply taking it to new heights. Again, I know its not our “mother-tongue,” so to speak but what about at least making sure you speak a language the way it should be, grammatically correct.
Can they not speak in a language that they’re more comfortable with, rather than having to throw in words from a language they’re barely familiar with? Especially when they know there’re cameras pointing at them. Like Monica says, I’d have to go powder my a**, if I had to speak to more than 2 people in Hindi at the same time. In spite of my roommate giving me very reassuring glances.
I guess at the end of the day, the aim of a language is communication. So, what the hell, lets go revel in our pseudoness.
PS: Next post coming up on the way people have mutilated the Tamil language. Due to the abundance of nonsense available, we’ll start with people who sing in Tamil and dub for our heroines.

The struggle

I came home to find that I did leave some books behind here at that I didn’t take with me. Amongst the pile that got left behind, there was a thin black book that I didn’t quite remember. I, by the way, know where each one of my books were bought, which were bought in a particular batch, who was with me that day, the order in which I read them et al. So I picked this one up and found that it was autographed. Tenzin Tsundue, Chennai, 16th August it said.

It all came back to me in a flash. When I was in college, we once had a signature campaign for free Tibet. Mr. Tsundue’s latest book of poems was on sale and I was so impressed with the way that man spoke, I bought a copy. I’m not a particularly huge fan of poetry. But his poetry was so simple and sincere.

My Tibetanness

Thirty-Nine years in exile.
Yet no nation supports us.
Not a single bloody nation!

We are refugees here.
People of a lost country.
Citizen to no nation.

Tibetans: the world’s sympathy stock.
Serene monks and bubbly traditionalists;
One lakh and several thousand odd,
nicely mixed, steeped
in various assimilating cultural hegemonies.

At every check-post and office
I am an ‘Indian-Tibetan’.
My Registration Certificate,
I renew every year, with a salam
A foreigner born in India.

I am more of an India.
Except for my chinky Tibetan face.
‘Nepali?’ ‘Thai?’ ‘Japanese?’
‘Chinese?’ ‘Naga?’ ‘Manipuri?’
but never the question-‘Tibetan?’

I am a Tibetan.
But I am not from Tibet.
Never been there.
Yet I dream
of dying there.

I’m tired

I am tired,

I am tired doing that 10th March ritual,
screaming from the hills of Dharamsala.

I am tired,
I am tired selling sweaters on the roadside,
40 years of sitting, waiting in dust and spit.

I am tired,
eating rice ‘n’ dal
and grazing cows in the jungles of Karnataka.

I am tired,
I am tired dragging my dhoti
in the dirt of Manju Tila.

I am tired,
I am tired fighting for the country
I have never seen.

I’m in awe of their strength. How deep rooted that faith must be I wonder. To fight for a cause, a cause that bigger than one’s life and everything that engulfs one’s being. The passion has got to be infectious. But when the passion and the strength wear off, the faith, that still drives all of this must still be quite strong.

I remember standing in the temple, my eyes closed, brows knit in concentration, fervently praying. The unquestioned faith that I was convinced about. I believed that I would get that new tricycle if I prayed hard enough. Years later, my wants grew, and there I was standing in the same temple. My eyes are closed, I want to pray. I want to believe that my faith is strong. But somewhere, a ray of doubt creeps in. This time I’m not so sure. The faith is not enough.

To the people who’s faith has remained steadfast after all the draining struggle, I salute you!

I know i’ve been lashing out on hospitals a lot off late. Its only because I’ve had to deal with them and they’ve been driving me crazy!
– The medical profession has been held in very high esteem since time immemorial. But right now, its probably the most lucrative business. Let’s not kid ourselves about it. I don’t have a problem with it cos after all its a source of livelihood. When that fact has been established, treat your patients like customers. Please realise that times have changed. We no longer fancy being treated like we have a pea sized brain. Humor us and talk to us. There’s a slight chance we might be able to comprehend the language of the higher mortals.
– If you can print brochures, call them patient information, and have tables that list the various procedures you have and how much they cost(i have a feeling that this is all the information they’re interested in conveying to the patients), you can also schedule appointments such that they don’t clash. If you have no rooms available for patients, please do not ask people to come and wait for eternity. It is, to say the least, infuriating!
– I understand there’s a dearth of trained nurses. Screaming at them in front of the patients and calling them stupid and incompetant doesn’t do us any good. We want to be able to trust the people who stick needles into us. Do not make that anymore difficult than it already is. Also, if u want to quiz them on their knowledge, do it where we can’t hear you. We’re not interested in knowing how little they know.
– If you can hire managers to run your hospital, you can also train your front office people to at least speak obligingly to the people who’s money pays their salary. Its not a sin to smile at people who’re obviously in distress. Please do not bark at us. We do not have the patience to entertain you. So f*** off and let us be!

PS: My heart’s bleeding that I’m missing Rahman in Madras when I’m in the city. Talk about bad luck 😦

Another blast in Hyderabad. I’m thousands of miles away from home, and the pain is just as intense. The blast is supposed to have happened at Lumbini Park, which is right opposite the Andhra Pradesh secretariat and at a chat shop in Koti. According to the latest figures, 44 people have been killed. This figure is certainly going to go up.

A blast at Lumbini Park is the worst hit possible in Hyderabad for more than one reason. It is right opposite the secretariat building. Also, the park is generally really crowded on weekends. Its filled with kids and huge family picnicking. Who ever’s behind the blast must cringe and feel ashamed of themselves. Why do you want to target children? What have they done to deserve this? Lumbini Park is also very close to Prasadz theater and other huge parks on Necklace road. These are place people are most often found hanging out at on weekends. Koti, one of the busiest shopping areas is heavily crowded on Saturdays as well.

The other thing that’s mentioned in the same breath after a blast is the fact that Hyderabad is communally sensitive. Don’t play with the lay man’s emotions. Killing people is the not the solution to anyone’s problems! How can anyone with even the slightest shred of humanity not flinch at the sight of so many people’s death? Is anything in world worth the smiles and happiness of so many innocent people?

We love Hyderabad. Please give it back to us! Did the people involved in the blast not see that Buddha Statue towering over the lake? I guess a mere stone does not mean anything to them….

Praying for all the families affected by this blast…….

‘Tell me the truth,’ he demanded, ‘is she hot?? Or is it jus the picture??’

‘How the hell am I supposed to answer that question?’ I was getting irritated. I never really have too much patience with people like him. But, after half an hour of constant interrogation, I was beginning to seriously lose my temper. Darn orkut (with all due respect to Google. the cheesy pick up lines and guys wanting intro to the ‘hot chick’ on your friends list)

‘Ok, let me put it this way. Do you ever feel threatened when you’re with her?’

The new line of questioning caught my attention.

‘What exactly do you mean?’

‘You know, do feel like you don’t get any attention when you’re around her? Or that all the guys are looking only at her. Do you feel like the match-stick girl or Cinderella before she met the fairy??’

As much as knew that he hit the nail on the head, I said ‘what crap! Where did you get that idea from?? Girls don’t feel threatened by other girls.’

I was lying through my teeth (not that I ever felt threatened when I was with the girl he was talking about.. lol). I wasn’t going to tell him what was going on in my head. The conversation took a different turn and we spoke about a lot of different things. But what he said was still playing at the back of my head. He actually had a very valid point, as much I hated to admit it to myself. I really thought about it though (I promise!)

Later, caught up with the mundane work I do for a living, I completely forgot about the whole conversation. That evening, a bunch of my friends and I decided to go to a pub. Though it was the middle of the week, we all needed a break. After going there we found out that ‘the ladies’ drinks were on the house.’ After some serious grumbling, the guys settled down to do some serious drinking. Our table was right in front of the entrance. So when ever someone walked in, I invariably turned to glance at the latest additions to the already crowded and rowdy population in the pub.

I sensed someone walking in. When I turned to take a look, it was very huge, inappropriately dressed lady (read aunty). She was wearing a black shiny skirt (that was much too shiny), a black net top that was struggling to hold all her flab that was pouring out of the clothes and a shiny pair of silver stilettos. Behind her walked in another girl who was as thin as a rake. She made me feel obese (I’m not! I feel that way only in moments of serious inadequacies). She was wearing a very nice blue halter and pretty white short skirt. The shade of blue she was wearing was my favorite color and I’ve been wanting to buy a nice skirt for ages now (from my tone, I’ve obviously not succeeded). I was busy scrutinizing her make up and clothes and secretly cursing that I never found anything that nice when I went shopping that I didn’t notice my friend staring at me (not the one I had the conversation with, earlier that day, this is another one). He burst out laughing and said, ‘Stop gaping at all the women who walk in!’ I blushed so hard that I was thankful for the scanty lighting.

When everyone around me was busy taking my trip, I was thinking about the conversation I had earlier that day. I couldn’t stop laughing. He was sooo right. So dudes, next time you want to pick out (up) the hottest woman, ALWAYS ask a girl. She might refuse to tell you though! Now, that’s a totally different issue.

For someone who thought that Ranganathan street was the epitome of confusion, chaos and crowd, I saw something that made T Nagar look like downtown Las Vegas. not like i’ve been there in any case

I had gone to Charminar in Hyderabad on Monday. My room mate had some work there, so I decided to tag along with her. Moreover I wanted my sister (who was visiting me) to see the other face of Hyderabad. We decided to go a little early just so that we would avoid the peak hours crowd. But luck was smarter than us. And woh man! Was it crowded or what..

Some of the rules that would help one navigate through the crowd is as follows:

  • Always move in only one direction, the direction in which the crowd wants you to move. Don’t even think of going against the crowd.

  • Make sure you have a family song or a theme song or something that would help you identify your kith and kin if you get lost there, cos all other ways of trying to find the lost person is extremely useless. and yes, this is inspiration of our very own tamil flicks!

  • Even if you happen to drop your most priced possession, DO NOT bend to pick it up. If you do, that’s the easiest way to die.

  • What ever happens, you must continue walking. If you stop against the crowd’s will, the results will be disastrous. and i mean it

  • If you know your destination is 100 meters away, slowly.. this is the most important part, slowly try to move towards your destination. This requires a lot of skill, as in the process of doing so, you should not disrupt the crowd and earn the wrath of the people on the road.

  • In a road where there is no space for people to walk, there are some thoughtful souls who bring their luxury cars in to the lanes. If you happen to encounter such people, I would advise you to give them as much space as you can. I say this keeping in mind the best of the reader’s interests. Otherwise you are sure to go deaf due to the pleasing sound of his horn.

Coming back to my story, after a lot of trouble, we managed to get into one of the innumerable shops that sold sarees and dress materials and bangles and ghaghras and what not. Being festive season, the shops were really busy. I got some ‘gyaan’ about the latest fashion or the ‘fast moving stuff’.

First of all, there’s the Veer Zaara stuff, and the Kaanta Laga sarees and Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya saree and what not. The way these sales men sell their stuff is mind blowing. If you’re looking at a saree, he not only educates you about the latest stuff but also wears them and displays them. In short, a mini ramp show happens before you buy one saree.

And these shops will give Pothy’s Indha colour contest a run for their money. Pothy’s boasts of having sarees in every possible color. But these people have every possible colour in one saree. Now thats unheard of!!!! To get the shop keeper show you a sober ( or atleast somewhere there) saree, you should assure him that it is NOT your wedding and you don’t want everyone to look at only you. If he is convinced, he might show you something that doesn’t require you to wear anti-glares before you look at it.

What ever said, it’s an extremely unique experience that reflects the rich culture and tradition of Hyderabad. The colors, the extravagance, the richness and the pride of the Nawabi tradition. 🙂